Our 2010 State of the Industry Report includes the results of an exclusive survey of contractors on their economic outlook for 2010 and beyond. We’ll publish the results in our February issue and provide a sneak peek of the data in a live webinar on Feb. 3. 

Our 2010 State of the Industry Report includes the results of an exclusive survey of contractors on their economic outlook for 2010 and beyond. We’ll publish the results in our February issue and provide a sneak peek of the data in a live webinar on Feb. 3.

The response rates to our surveys continue to amaze me - as does the diligence with which contractors fill out the forms, which are sometimes a bit lengthy. In the most recent survey, 90 percent of respondents took time at the end of the survey to include some words of advice for their fellow contractors on running a successful business. This didn’t involve just checking a box - it was an open-ended question that required them to summarize their advice in their own words.

Participants were asked what advice they would give to other contractors to help them have a profitable and successful future in the industry. These responses ran the gamut - including 11 recommendations to “choose another profession” - but there were some key themes that stood out.

Most emphasized the basics. Controlling overhead costs and properly preparing bids were the most common subjects for responses. “Sharpen your pencils,” wrote one participant. “Double-check all estimates, look for any type of production efficiencies, and negotiate pricing per individual job.”

“Do detailed job costing and analyze it on an ongoing basis,” replied another. “Manage cash flow to ensure you don’t get upside down on projects.”

“Do not cut your pricing to get work,” one respondent advised. “It only ends up with minimal profits on a project - and sometimes none whatsoever.”

Another summed it up this way; “Computerize your operation and know exactly where you are financially at the end of the month.”

Other common themes included ensuring quality workmanship and providing excellent customer service. One contractor said, “Be the best at what you do and set yourself apart by performance and professionalism.”

“Pay attention to jobsites,” another contractor recommended. “Be certain they have the proper materials, tools, information and labor to get the work performed on time and on budget.”

“Word of mouth is king,” said a respondent. “Provide exceptional service to maintain the customer base you have now and gain referrals for new customers.”

Others stressed the importance of knowing which customers to avoid. “Be aggressive but selective,” said one contractor. “Be careful who you work for, do credit checks, and carefully select projects.”

“Look for profitable deals and let others take the cheap work,” said another.

For more information on the webinar, visit this link: event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=registration.jsp&eventid=184681&sessionid=1&key=296D00CCF3B57D7DF5A2D271C9BDFD14&partnerref=enews&sourcepage=register